Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Franny K. Stein, Neil Flambe, & Amulet

Since the end of term, I have been catching up on the stacks and stacks of magazines that had been piling up. I read old celebrity news, old science news, and a plethora of fitness articles. The most entertaining part of the catch-up was seeing how the celebrity news was reported when I knew the outcome because it was so old. Jennifer Aniston pregnant! No way Jose, if you saw her recent bikini pictures in Mexico.

Because I was reading so many magazines, I wasn't really reading books. I am still working on Laughter of Dead Kings on the Kindle, and I have been reading some kids' books in print format. My nephew will be turning six in a few weeks, and I have been trying to improve my literacy in the type of books that might appeal to him. One of the book series that had caught his attention is the Franny K. Stein books. Franny is mad scientist kid, modeled on the concept of Frankenstein. Remember, Frankenstein was the name of the scientist, NOT the monster! The Franny K. Stein books, of which there are seven so far, revolve around Franny's misadventures with science. Franny loves science, and she thinks that all the kids in her grade school should love science. However, they are interested in other things, like making cookies or collecting stamps. Franny creates a lunchmeat monster to save her teacher from the garbage can creature concocted from Franny's fermenting lunch (Lunch Walks Among Us). Franny creates a Dooms Day device, but then her lab assistant, a mixed breed mutt called Igor, accidentally eats the device, and in the process, activates it. Franny has to shrink herself to journey into Igor's stomach to deactivate and retrieve the device. (Frantastic Voyage) The books are first chapter books, and my nephew loves the books so much that he keeps on looking for new Franny books. I think the books are fun and perfect for a boy, or girl, who loves mad science.

The other kids series character that I have been reading is Neil Flambe. He is a creation of Canadian author, Kevin Sylvester. Neil Flambe is a 14-year-old master chef. Neil Flambe can cook anything, and he also has a powerful nose for odors. Because of his powerful nose that can pick out the slightest smell and identify it, Neil gets involved with the local police, namely Sean Nakamura, Police Inspector. Neil helps Nakamura solve mysteries, and in the first book, Neil Flambe and the Marco Polo Murders, Neil helps Nakamura find the person who is murdering the best chefs in the area. Of course, the clues all point to Neil being the culprit, so he has to clear his name. The back story revolves around the journeys of Marco Polo, and a deadly poison that Polo discovered on his journeys. Neil gets help from his older cousin, Larry Flambe, and Neil's girl friend, Isabella. There are only four books in this series, and the books are geared toward the older reader, maybe fifth to sixth grade. My nephew will have a bit of time to grow into the Neil Flambe series, but I hope that he does give them a try.

I've also been reading graphic novels, and the Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi has been entertaining. The story revolves around Emily Hayes, who becomes a stonekeeper. She, her mother, and Emily's brother, Navin, go to live in Emily's great-grandfather's house after Emily's father's death in a car accident. Of course, Emily has to save her mother, who is captured by an arachnopod. Emily and Navin have to journey to another world to save their mom, and then they have to stay there to save the world. This is another short series. There are five books out, with a sixth expected in September 2014.

The world of kids' literature is booming, so my nephew should have plenty of books to catch his attention. Let's hope that he gives the books a chance. You know how it is with kids. Right now, he is in a "I don't want to read because books are dumb." We'll have to hope that he sees the joy in reading before too much time passes.

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